Pharmaceutical Research Facility
The Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy Research Facility is an investment by the Texas A&M University Health Science Center in creation of a resource to conduct modern animal model studies by college faculty involving various areas of drug development and delivery. The construction of the building was completed in January 2011, and testing to ensure that the facility was free of rodent pathogens was completed in February 2011.
All research conducted at the facility must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) through the Texas A&M Institute of Biotechnology. This board, made up of scientific, veterinary and community members, reviews each study to ensure that all procedures are safe, humane, necessary, and meet all the requirements outlined by the Public Health Service Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare as well as the Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Juan Bustamante, PhD, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the Rangel College of Pharmacy, serves as vice-chair for the committee and is the main point of contact for faculty involved with animal research at the Kingsville facility.
All users of the research facility are required to take training involving the use of animals in research as well as specialized training in various animal research procedures that they use in their studies. In addition to training, the facility has implemented many quality control procedures to maintain the building as a barrier facility. A barrier facility is a vivarium where the possibility of the animals housed there contracting a species specific disease is greatly decreased through the use of aseptic techniques and specialized equipment. These techniques are meant to eliminate the various pathways where an animal pathogen may make its way into the facility.
In March 2011 the IACUC approved the first study to be conducted at the facility. In April 2011 the Texas A&M Institutional Biosafety Committee approved the vivarium’s BSL2 areas for study work to begin. Presently the facility has 10 approved study protocols. This work includes study of the effects of diabetes, new methods of drug delivery for cancer treatment, a study of the effects of gastro-intestinal disease, and liver and obesity studies.
In November 2011, the facility hosted its first site visit from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). This association consists of nearly 1,000 member animal research facilities worldwide that conduct peer review visits in order to set a superior level for animal care involved in scientific research. In March 2012 the Texas A&M IBT and the Rangel College of Pharmacy received official acknowledgment of a three-year full accreditation without recommendation, which is the highest level that can be achieved via this inspection.
Currently the facility is becoming a resource for other Texas A&M institutions. Researchers from Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi have submitted proposals to the IACUC to conduct work at the facility. These protocols will expand the work at the facility to encompass environmental and marine biology issues.